After a weekend when, to mark his conversion to vegetarianism, Meatloaf released a new EP featuring the tracks “I would do anything for lovage,” “Stew out of peas ain’t bad,” and “You took the wurst right out of my mouth!” – Real Mallorca are now in trouble when lived up to their reputation as notoriously bad travellers, going down 1-0 away at Granada on Sunday. The result meant that after weeks of precariously hovering over the relegation zone, they finally slipped into it, and on Sunday Mallorca extended their consecutive win-less streak to six, with just one point on the road this season from a possible 27 available. I think all Fan’s View readers would agree its the kind of form that makes our very existence in La Liga more uncertain as the season meets its midway point. Our case was not helped by turning out in the third choice kit of pink shorts with matching sleeves and socks!
Things got off to a very ominous start as the home side won a corner after just 23 seconds. Straight from the kick off, Mallorca looked to be suffering from a New Year hangover as coach Moreno made a surprise selection choice in defence, picking three centre backs. Normal centre back Antonio Raillo, who was suspended for the Sevilla game two weeks ago, was recalled, playing alongside Serbian international Aleksandar Sedlar and the ever-present Martin Valjent. Sedlar was left in no-man’s land when Montoro headed the home side ahead in the 23rd minute. Lago Junior spent more time in the first half defending and breaking down the wing as none of the three “centrals” were going on forays over the halfway line. Moreno’s radical change in defence generated confusion and did not have the desired affect. He didn’t seem to realise this until just past the hour mark when he made a double substitution bringing on Febas for Salva Sevilla and the Ghanian international Lumor for a disappointing Sedlar. These changes in the second half made a difference. Lago played a more attacking role although he had, by any standards, a pretty poor 93 minutes. The one player who stood out for Mallorca was their Iron-Man – Dani Rodriguez. He put in a tireless shift and if we had another 10 like him we wouldn’t be down in the nether regions of La Liga.
Granada had a tremendous start to the season, but their form of late has been on the slide and they didn’t look any better than us. Spurred on by a festive crowd bathed in sunshine, they gained a reputation on Sunday as the “dirtiest” team we’ve met this season on our travels. I can’t remember a game when so many of our players were crunched to the ground with Kubo and Cucho Hernandez picked out for special treatment. Kubo had a quiet game stuck out on the wing. What a waste of a prodigious talent and he should have been told to play further in field. Cucho was OK after making his first start in three months but he looked short of match-playing fitness. Mallorca had five shots on target in the first half, none of them would have burst a paper bag (what we called powder puff efforts back in the day!).
After half time, when Moreno made his changes, we saw more of the ball and also created opportunities. A good move down the right between Gamez and Lago Junior almost saw the equaliser but the latter’s effort barely troubled Rui Silva in the home goal. “Cucho” Hernandez began to tire and Abdon Prats with his gung-ho attitude took his place. The Arta-born striker, who will forever be remembered for scoring the third goal in our epic play off final back in June, tried his best but he made little impression on a resolute Granada defence. A better than usual referee, Soto Grado, blew for time and Mallorca trooped off the pitch after yet another away defeat. Will they ever win away from home again?!
SUMMING UP : Local pundits reckon we need 45 points to stay in La Liga this season – at the moment that’s a huge ask. Results on Sunday night meant that Celta Vigo climbed out of the bottom three after drawing 1-1 to Osasuna. That point means Real Mallorca drop to 18th though both sides are on 15 points. Once again it was a frustrating away day performance from Mallorca who again lost to a soft goal from rank bad defending. Our second half efforts deserved at least a draw, we won the corner count 4-5 and shots 10-11. The original tactical line up selected by Vicente Moreno with three central defenders didn’t work and I was surprised it took him so long to change things around. In my opinion, line-up experiments should be confined to the training ground. The home side celebrated like they’d won the league when the final whistle blew; knowing they were very fortunate to get all three points against a Mallorca team who now need to bring in some better replacements in this month’s transfer window. New additions will be welcomed with open arms. It was good to see a game where VAR was rarely used, although Abdon Prats was in with a shout near the end in what looked like a clear penalty, but the referee didn’t want to know.
Next Saturday we’re away in “bandit country” to play third division outfit Zamora at midday in the Copa del Rey, then it’s Valencia here at 12 noon on the 19th. Help ?!